March to December. That was a long wait. I and three of my high school buddies (Cez, Thomas, and Conney) had to wait for nine months before this trip came to reality. And boy, it was worth the wait. Second encounter with Davao was love. And until now, it’s been two days but but my body is still looking for all the thrill and fun I experienced over the weekend. So, what are we waiting for? Let me take you to how my three-day trip to Davao City went by.
Our flight was scheduled at 4:10 AM so we already at the airport as early as 2:45 AM. Thankfully, there were no glitches and we left Manila on time and arrived in Davao at around 5:45 AM. While on the plane, the sun graced us with his presence and the sight was a unforgettable one:
From the airport, we proceeded to Palm’s Residence Inn to check in. Unfortunately, their check in time is at 3 PM. We decided to just eat breakfast at a nearby branch of McDonald’s. From there, we proceeded to Davao Crocodile Park where the office Davao Wildwater Adventure (DWA), Inc. is situated.
Upon arrival at DWA, we were asked to sign waiver forms and change into our rafting outfits. We were then introduced to our rafting guide, Kuya Dirk and he let us watch a short video of what to expect during rafting. We were also introduced to Kuya Adam, the one who will be taking our pictures. After a quick briefing, we departed for Taguman, the put-in area. The travel time from DWA was about an hour.
Upon arrival at Taguman, Kuya Adam and Kuya Dirk explained to us the terms they will be using while rafting. Basically, there were just three commands: easy forward, hard forward, back paddle. We were also taught how to do defensive swimming just in case our raft capsizes or we fall out of the raft.
After the briefing, we boarded the raft and paddled into a body of calm water. We were asked to jump one by one and demonstrate how to do defensive swimming and how to rescue our colleagues. I have no problems rescuing my friends because I am physically larger and stronger than them but jumping and floating in the water was totally a different story. Water is my greatest fear. Aside from the fact that I cannot swim, I almost drowned once so I don’t really like putting my head below the surface. So, when I was told to jump, I said to myself, “Melissa, you are really crazy to have done this.”
I jumped but I panicked for more than 10 minutes. The others were telling me to let go and relax but I really had a hard time figuring out how to float. I don’t know what happened but after some time, I found myself floating and far from the raft. I realized I could do it and I will survive. Dilemma one: Done. My next problem would be if the raft capsized for real.
After the practice, we then proceeded to the real thing. The first few rapids were so so. Our first major obstacle was the “washing machine”. Take it from the name. According to Kuya Dirk, the ones who do not wish to capsize often end up capsizing. That’s what happened to us. First major and oooooopmh we went into the water.
The moment I fell down in water, nothing went on my head except, “I need to float”. I kept blobbing in and out of the water and I probably drank tons of the water of Davao river. Since I couldn’t immediately cope up to situation, I drifted far and far from the raft. I then saw Kuya Adam speeding towards me. Thankfully, I managed to float and I was in defensive swimming position even before he rescued me in his kayak.
We then rested for a while under a small cave so I could transfer into the main raft. The rapids after were a lot calmer. We passed by what they call as “Vanishing Falls” and “Monkey Wall”. It was also a great chance to appreciate the lush green scenery around the river.
Our next major challenge was an area called “double down”. According to Kuya Dirk. it was called in such way because there is literally two “sudden down” we have to overcome. We were fine the first “down”. On the second one, I, Thomas and Kuya Dirk fell out of the water. As usual I panicked and pleaded for my life but somehow I ended up floating again. Ha. After the double down, we decided to stop for a while and eat our lunch which consisted of adobong chicken, pork chop and rice. We were so hungry that the food disappeared in no time.
After lunch, Kuya Dirk told us there we still have to face eight rapids. I could only sigh. Not long after we left, we encountered a main rapid and I fell into the water again! So much for being the one who has water phobia. Unfortunately, when I fell I hit big stones so my back is still sore until now.
The last major rapid that we had to face was called “drop and suck”. Simple… If you can’t surpass it you will be sucked by the water. I was expecting for the raft to capsize but it turned out easier than I expected. In fact, it was the easiest rapid to overcome.
After the “drop and suck”, the waters were already calm. Kuya Adam transferred into our raft and interviewed us about our rafting experience. Finally after more than three hours in the water and under the scorching sun, I finally saw our last stop and the car that would take us back to the main city. I breathed a sigh of relief and started shouting. During the rafting proper, I couldn’t should. I couldn’t find my voice. But when we finished, I could not stop grinning and shouting.
Our guide congratulated us for a job well done and we took pictures before packing up. My companions asked me if I still have water phobia after all the rafting experience. I answered, “Yes, I still have phobia but now, at least I know how to float”. 🙂
After washing up, we traveled back to the main city and proceeded to Zip City. During the trip, almost of all of us fell asleep probably due to the tiredness from all the paddling. Upon arrival at the Zip City, we were immediately asked to wear safety harness. I thought that the zip line at Zip City would be low since it’s one of the shortest and lowest zip line in Davao. To my surprise, it was still long and very high! It’s much higher than the one I tried in Subic but less scary since we will be riding in sitting position rather than the superman position. Thomas is afraid of heights so Conney and I went first. Thomas and Cez followed after us. It was interesting to know it was Conney’s and Thomas’ first time to ride the zip line. Anyway, the ride was short but it was as always, exhilarating.
From Zip City, we went back to DWA in Crocodile Park to get our bags. We were then asked to wait for the CD where our pictures during rafting will be saved. To our surprise, DWA also asked us to choose among several shirts as souvenir! So awesome. We were also given free tickets to Butterfly House and Tribu K’ Mindawan, allied companies of DWA. Worth it for the Php 2000 we paid per head.
Before proceeding to Butterfly House, we toured Crocodile Park. The park is more of a zoo–with collections of rabbits, parrots, crows, rabbits and even ostriches!
After enjoying with the different animals, we walked to the nearby Butterfly House. We just made it time before they closed! The place has a good collection of big butterflies but I’ve seen better ones. The Butterfly House I visited in Laguna before has better collection. Nonetheless, the green house was still eye catching.
From the Butterfly House, we then proceeded to Palm’s Residence Inn to check-in and wash up. We initially agreed to eat dinner at Ah Fat Seafood Restaurant but were already so hungry so we just decided to eat at the nearby Shakey’s at the Gaisano Mall.
At around 9:30 PM, we went back to the hotel and called it a day since we were already very tired from all the things we have done during the day.
One of the downsides of planning a trip is I already have an idea of what to expect. That happened to me when I planned our Pangasinan trip earlier this year. By the time I arrived in Pangasinan, I have lost all the excitement. But Davao was different. Yes, I had initial expectations but I guess something as crazy as rafting erased all my notions. And it helped a lot! At the end of our first 1 in Davao, I was still so pumped and I felt I conquered the world. The whitewater rafting experience taught me a lot. I realized that fear is just a really a state of the mind. On the brink of danger, I discovered I can force myself to do things which I initially thought I couldn’t do. So hurray to me for overcoming another challenge.
I’d like to end this Day 1 post by thanking my friends who have been there with me the whole experience. I wouldn’t have jumped in the water if it weren’t for them. It’s also a good feeling that everytime I would remember this experience, they were there with me. Our rafting guides, Kuya Dirk and Kuya Adam, were also super cool and kalog. It was not just of one the craiziest days in my life but also one of the most hilarious from all the offbeat jokes and statements they cracked. They did a superb job of directing us in the river, taking our pictures and of course, keeping us safe.
I’ll see you all the second part of my travel diary!
Credits to Davao Wildwater Adventure for the rafting and Zip City pictures.
This post is the first of a three-part series. Check out the other parts at: